My great grandfather William John Tucker was born 152 years ago today on October 30, 1862. William was born to an Englishman turned California gold miner turned farmer John Tucker and a former Kentucky/Missouri girl – Mary Graves Hardesty. John and Mary had met shortly after she arrived in Honey Lake, California in 1861 and they were married on January 21, 1862. John had been in America since 1851 when he made the perilous journey from the East Coast to the California gold fields. John and Mary's first child William was born on their farm in Susanville, Lassen County, California. As John had a brother William who was five years older than he was, it is likely that this was who they named their eldest son after.
John had two dreams, to go north to Canada to get back under British Rule and to buy a farm where God did the irrigating. He never made it back to British territory as he was unable to convince his wife Mary to ford any more treacherous rivers after they had lost a team of horses and a wagon crossing the Cowlitz River near Toledo after their arrival in Washington Territory.The family spent two years of renting a farm on the Cowlitz Prairie.Will’s sister Mary Elizabeth was born while the lived on the Cowlitz Prairie farm on April 8, 1865. John realized his second dream in 1866 when he hewed his log home out of the wilderness of the Silver Creek area. At that time Silver Creek was a 2000 acre valley of fertile soil with no roads and very few clearings because the land was covered with a hardy growth of timber.
For the first two years at the Silver Creek cabin it had no door - just a large and heavy canvas and then with the birth of each of the next six children John would add a room to the cabin. William’s younger siblings were Sarah Ellen born in 1867, George Henry born February 1, 1872, Agnes Jane born September 12, 1874, Albert Henry born May 23, 1876, Alfred James born May 28, 1879 and Frederick Rollyn born December 28, 1882. When Fred was three years old their sister Sarah Ellen died August 9, 1886 at age 19 of a ruptured appendix and was one of the first two people buried at the Salkum Cemetery.
William John Tucker in his teens or early twenties
William Tucker in the Signal Corp – second from left
On October 14, 1888, twenty-six years old William John Tucker married seventeen year old Georgianna Katherine at her parents’ home. Their witnesses were William’s neighbor and brother-in-law Franklin Harrison Usher and William’s sister Agnes Tucker.
On July 18, 1889, their first child William Henry Tucker was born at Silver Creek. According to my Uncle Arnold, “Henry was a very handsome man, as were all the boys.”
William John Tucker, William Henry, Georgianna Katherine
On January 8, 1892, my grandfather Alva Ashbury Tucker was born at Silver Creek. On April 6, 1894 Harold (both Arnold and Stella had thought he was the oldest and died when he was twelve but that doesn’t fit time wise and others have indicated that Annie said he was two when he died.) He had red hair like his mother.
William John, Georgianna Katherine
Alva Ashbury, William Henry, Harold
On May 7, 1896 Edwin Monroe Tucker was born at Silver Creek. He was the last of their four children and their fourth son. Their third son Harold died July 26, 1896 at age two and according cemetery records he is buried Salkum Cemetery – but with no headstone. He may have drowned.
I do not know the circumstances but within a few months a number of things happened. Annie had a new baby and then two and a half months later Harold died at age two and then five months later, on December 28, 1896, Annie committed adultery with F.H. Usher at her home (this from the divorce papers that were to follow.) Franklin Harrison Usher lived on the farm next door and was married to Annie’s sister-in-law (William Tucker’s sister Lizzie) who was ill at this time.
When Frank and Annie ran off together on January 21, 1897 they took the baby Edwin Monroe Tucker with them and left Henry (7 years old) and Alvie (5 years old) home alone while William was out working on the farm. A month later on February 23, 1897 William is granted 160 acres through the Homestead Act.
William then filed for divorce from Katie (Annie.) The Sheriff was unable to find Annie to serve her with divorce papers in March 1897 and it was believed that Annie and Frank had left Washington State. Summons by publications was filed and published once a week for four consecutive weeks in the “People’s Advocate” newspaper published in Chehalis, Washington.
The final divorce decree was granted on May 19, 1897 giving William custody of all three children since he was the only fit parent and stating that neither of the parties to this action could contract the marriage relation within a period of six month after this action. On May 21, 1897 notice appeared in ‘The Chehalis Bee’ stating their divorce was granted along with two other couples. Franklin’s wife Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Tucker Usher filed for divorce later than her brother did and it was not granted until the week of October 8, 1897.
Will (as he was known by family) wed again on March 24, 1898 at the Methodist Church in Chehalis. He and Miss May Mabel Wight were married with A.C. and Luella Winters as their witnesses. William was 35 years old and May was 28 years old. An announcement of their marriage appeared in The Chehalis Bee on April 1st:“W. J. Tucker of Silver Creek and Miss May Wight of Ferry were married at the Methodist Church Thursday evening of last week by Rev. T. E. Elliott. Mr. Tucker is the brother of Prof Tucker.”
Their only child, a daughter, Calla Lilly Tucker was born on March 11, 1899 at their Silver Creek farm.
In the June 3, 1904, Chehalis Bee Nugget the following announcement appeared:“Home Telephones – Line Completed to Chehalis from Mossyrock – Not Open Yet for Business. The Home Telephone Company have pay stations at Mossyrock, Silver Creek, Ethel, Salkum, Mayfield and Forest, and phone in at the ranches of F. Tauscher, W.J. Tucker, J.J. Finstad and Fred Dunbar.”
It was reported in the August 22, 1907 Centralia Chronicle that W. J. Tucker had sold to the Continental Timber Company timber on some of his land for $100.
It was about 1910 when Edwin found out that he was actually a Tucker and not an Usher. He was very upset about it. When Edwin was finally able to meet his father William, the reunion did not go well because of the hard feelings between Will Tucker and Annie and Frank Usher.
Will’s brother Albert died on March 24, 1911 of a strangulated hernia. He is buried at Salkum Cemetery. Albert left a widow and one son.
From the February 27, 1913 Centralia Chronicle: “The Lewis county commissioners have ordered a change in the course of the Paul Larsen Road….J. Finstad and William J. Tucker, two property owners through whose land the road passed and who objected to its establishment, were awarded $125 and $200 respectively by the commissioners.”
February 28, 1914 Mary Tucker’s 74thBirthday
Grandpa Will is in the upper right corner.
Her six surviving children, James, Fred, Henry, William, Lizzie and Agnes.
May – Will’s second wife
Will’s son Alvie had been farming with his father in Silver Creek when he went against the advice of his family and married Effa Graves of near-by town of Forest. She had been working as a teacher in Coulee City in Eastern Washington so that is where they got married on March 20, 1915. After a honeymoon in Tacoma, they returned to Coulee City and Alvie went to work on a ranch in the area.
Effa and Alva Tucker on their wedding day
Will’s wife May died in Chehalis on Saturday, April 10, 1920. She was just 49 years old. Her funeral was held on Monday afternoon and she was buried at the Salkum Cemetery. William was a widower at age 58 after 22 years of marriage.
William Tucker’s Barn Raising
In the July 7, 1922 Chehalis Bee Nugget newspaper it mentions that “James Tucker and family, Fred Tucker and family, W. J. Tucker and J. E. Owens and family enjoyed a very pleasant picnic July 4 in the Tucker grove.”
My Uncle Arnold remembered a trip to Grandpa Will’s place at age 3 in 1923. He went with his Dad Alvie and his Uncle Henry, who came down from Seattle, to Silver Creek over a gravel and puncheon road. “We stayed overnight, I slept between them in a huge bed, I really thought I was something, one of the men.”
A June 24, 1924 article also from the Chehalis Bee Nugget talks about how the L. W. Huntting, Fred R. Tucker and W. J. Tucker families spent the weekend at the beach.
Will applied for a Marriage License on Thursday, September 30, 1926 in Cathlamet, Wahkaikum County, Washington to marry Ella DeBelle, both of Silver Creek, Washington. Earl Adams of Pe Ell, Washington went with them and swore in a Marriage Affidavit that he was acquainted with the applicants; that he knew they were not habitual criminals, and that William was older than twenty-one (he was almost 64) and that Ella was older than eighteen (she was 41.). He also said that he knew of no legal impediment to their marriage. On Wednesday, October 6, 1926 the Wahkaikum County Clerk was paid $1 (Receipt No 3594) to file the license after the marriage took place. What day and where the marriage took place, I do not know.
Ella DeBelle – Will’s third wife
Will’s second son, Alva Ashbury Tucker (my grandfather) died on May 27, 1927 when the tugboat he was Chief Engineer on sunk in stormy seas in the Straits of Juan de Fuca near Port Townsend, Washington. He was just 35 years old and left a widow and four young children.
Another Chehalis Bee Nugget article on July 2, 1927 stated that: “Mr. and Mrs. W. Tucker went to Chehalis this week.”
Will’s eldest son, William Henry Tucker, died November 30, 1927 of appendicitis during surgery in Seattle, King, Washington. He was 38 years old. He left a widow Hilda and a nine year old daughter Betty from his first marriage.
Will was a farmer and a blacksmith. He farmed right up until December 1, 1932 when he started feeling ill. Dr. L. G. Steck of Chehalis had attended him from December 27, 1932 and had last seen him on January 18, 1933. Dr. Steck had been treating him for three years for chronic myocarditis and cardiac decompensation with edema for 1 ½ years. William John died on 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 1933. He was seventy years old. Services were held at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 3rdat the Salkum Church officiated by Rev. E. L. Whistler of the Church of the Brethern. The funeral services were directed by L.R. Cattermole Funeral Home of Winlock, Washington and he was buried at the Salkum Cemetery. Will’s death certificate incorrectly states that his birthdate was October 31 – it was October 30 according to family members. His tombstone also says he was born in 1863 but it was 1862.
Will’s obituary says that he had a wide circle of friends.His only child mentioned was his daughter Calla, his son Edwin was not. According to the March 24th Chehalis Bee Nugget, the Silver Creek Grange met on March 18, 1933 and the Charter was draped in memory of Bro. W. J. Tucker who died had March 1.
My cousin Loren Tucker, the son of William’s youngest brother Fred, was born in 1914. In 1984 he shared with me what he remembered about his Uncle Will. “He was a good blacksmith and Dad often sent me over to his place with a horse to shoe or a plow share to sharpen. He was large and had a mustache. I think in later years he had diabetes or dropsy. I can remember him show Mom how badly his legs were swollen. I also remember Aunt May and her tremendous garden. I never knew Uncle Will’s first wife. In fact I never knew until I was grown about her. I remember Dee Bell but she never fit in very well with my family so there was no close relationship.”
About the same time I asked my Uncle Arnold about Grandpa Will. Arnold had this to say,“He was a tall well built man not fat, wore a large, thick mustache, heavy head of hair. Was a very kind man, good-natured, hard worker, and chewed plug tobacco. Seemed always easy going. Whenever I saw him, he would take me into a big bear hug. I really looked up to him.”
Great great grandparents: John Tucker/Mary Graves Hardesty
Great grandparents: William John Tucker/Georgianna Katherine Ragan
Grandparents: Alva Ashbury Tucker/Effa Belle Graves
Parents: Elva Rosalie Tucker/Lionell Burris Mitchell